Innovation: The Five Disciplines For Creating What Customers Want

Innovation: The Five Disciplines for Creating What Customers WantCurtis Carlson (president/CEO of SRI International) and William Wilmot (director of the Collaboration Institute) share their system for innovating in business. While the book is written for larger corporations, their message translates to all types of businesses.

The book details their five disciplines and provides supporting stories. The authors claim that the chance that you’ll succeed is directly proportional to using all five disciplines simultaneously. Failing to address one of them will doom you to failure.

1. Important Needs. Your product or service must target a customer value (as opposed to a company, shareholder, employee, or public value). A customer’s value = benefits – cost. You can optimize either the benefit or the cost to achieve high value. Likewise, you can compare values using the formula: Value Factor = benefits / cost.

2. Value Creation. You need a value proposition. The value proposition is the core of your “elevator speech”. (NABC = needs + approach + benefits + competition) that addresses:

  1. What is the important customer and market need?
  2. What is the unique approach for addressing this need?
  3. What are the specific benefits per costs that result from this approach?
  4. How are these benefits per costs superior to the competition’s and the alternatives?

3. Innovation Champions. You need people who are passionate and committed. In a small business, this responsibility falls to the owner. One of the challenges in growing your company is finding employees (or partners) who share your “champion-attitude”.

4. Innovation Teams. To innovate, you need collective intelligence. In a corporation, you would have the team all in-house. As a smaller business owner, you’ll need to create your own ad-hoc innovation team in networking, mastermind, or friendship groups.

5. Organizational Alignment. Upper management needs to remove barriers and provide organizational support. This is the advantage of smaller businesses; the organization has a flat hierarchy and people are aware of their fellow team members.

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